Sunday, December 31, 2017

Matthew 2:12-23 | Christmastide: Remembering the Holy Innocents | Martyrs and Refugees + December 30

Christmastide Welcome

Bienvenido! Akwaaba! Mirë se vjen! خوش آمدید Bem-vindos! 歡迎光臨! Céad míle fáilte! 

We invite you to hear and respond to the history-altering, world-restoring, personally-transforming Good News that Jesus is the Light of the worldWe invite you to wonder about Him, seek Him in the words and the silence, and receive Him as the greatest gift of salvation you could ever receive. Join with us as we discover again how His Word and His Spirit help us to humbly follow Him in every area of life as His Church - His family of servants and ambassadors who learn from Him how to become His Good News people who graciously love our neighbors and generously serve our city for the glory of God and for the life of the world.

Christmastide Scriptures | Matthew 2:12-23

What does "bringing back Christmas" look like for us if the Christmas story sounds like this?

Jesús was born to a teenage girl, María, before she was married to anyone, though she was engaged to a blue-collar stonemason, carpenter, and construction worker, José, at the time. 
María’s pregnancy out-of-wedlock likely made her, JoséJesús, and future children | siblings social outcasts in their families and in their town.  
Before María and José were married and while she was still pregnant, they were forced to travel to a town south of the capital city due to an unjust tax implemented by the rulers of the state.  
When they arrived in the town José's family was originally from, they were not visited by family members when Jesús was born. To make their reputation even worse, they were visited by local animal caretakers and bottom feeders (seen as untrustworthy and dirty) and then foreign mystics and psychics (seen as untrustworthy and evil).  
Jesús then spent the first few years of his life on the run with María and José as political refugees who were unwanted by the people in power in the capital city. In fact, this holy family embodied civil disobedience by not allowing Jesús to be a part of the capital’s mandated infanticide.  
Somehow, it was in the midst of a time that included a proud, bombastic ruler; a fearful people; and a violent war-justifying state that propagated their way of peace for the world, that God sent an ethnic minority baby born to a poor, teenage mother in the middle of nowhere to bring His Good News of great joy from heaven to earth.  
And because of Jesús – or as he was also called Emanuel, God with us – new life continues to be born in individuals and families today in a global Kingdom that surpasses country lines and stretches across time, bringing together rich and poor, native and foreigner, minority and majority, oppressed and oppressor.  
Jesús was born right in the middle of the mess of human bigotry, power, injustice, fear, violence, and hate, and that's exactly where He longs to meet us and bring new life today as He saves and brings people together from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

"Jose y Maria" by Everett Patterson

Salvete, Flores Martyrum (Ye Flowers of Martyrdom, All Hail)

By Aurelius Clemens Prudentius from Cathemerinon ("The Hymns of Prudentius")
348-405 A.D.

All hail! ye infant Martyr flowers,
Cut off in life’s first dawning hours:
As rosebuds snapt in tempest strife,
When Herod sought your Savior’s life.

You, tender flock of lambs, we sing,
First victims slain for Christ your King:
Beneath the Altar’s Heav’nly ray 
With Martyr-palms and crowns ye play!

For their redemption glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee!
With Father, 
and with Holy Ghost,
For ever, from the Martyr-host!


Lord's Prayer | Praying for Jesus' Kingdom Impact in Us and in Worcester

Eucharist | Thanking God for Communion with Christ and His Church

Old Testament Scripture Reading

The LORD will indeed vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants when He sees that their strength is gone and no one is left—slave or free. He will say: “Where are their gods, the ‘rock’ they found refuge in?" See now that I alone am He; there is no God but Me. I bring death and I give life; I wound and I heal. Rejoice, you nations, concerning His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants. He will take vengeance on His adversaries; He will purify His land and His people. + Deuteronomy 32:36-37, 39, 43

By Kofi Thompson
& Crown of Glory
2010 A.D.

All other gods,
They are the works of men.
You are the most high God,
There is none like You!
Jehovah, You are the most high!
You are the most high God!

Jehovah, eh-eh! Jehovah, ah-ah!
Jehovah, eh-eh! You are the most high God!

You are good and Your mercy is forever, 

By Sojourn Worship
2015 A.D.

Forgive us Lord, for passing by 
When children cry for bread.
Forbid it Lord, that justice lies
In tatters, cold and dead.
Outside these walls run desperate streets 
Where greed is law and life is cheap.
We bar the doors, refuse to see, 
Or hear the words You said:

Let justice roll like a river, 
Like a river, let it roll!
Let justice roll like a river,
Like a river, let it roll!

Convict us Lord, we dance and laugh 
Ignoring those who weep.
Correct us Lord, our golden calf
Has lulled our hearts to sleep.
The gap between the rich and poor
Grows ever wider, shore to shore.
There’s racial hate, religious war
And wolves among the sheep.

Indwell us Lord, and purify 

Our hands to work for You.

Enlist us Lord, to serve nearby 

And ʻcross the waters, too.

Your image-bearers on the earth 

Will never know how much theyʼre worth

Unless we love and help them first 

And show the way to You!

Heal Us
By William Cowper
1779 A.D.

Heal us, Emmanuel, here we are.
We long to feel Thy touch.
Deep wounded souls to Thee we fly.
O Savior hear our cry!

Our faith is feeble, we confess.
We faintly trust Thy word.
But will You pity us the less?
Be that far from You, LORD!

Remember him who once applied
With trembling for relief.
“Lord, I believe,” with tears he cried
“O help my unbelief!" 

She, too, who touched You in the press
And healing virtue stole
Was answered, “Daughter, go in peace
Thy faith has made thee whole.”

Like her, with hopes and fears we come
To touch You if we may.
O send us not despairing home,
Send none unhealed away.

By Judson W. Van DeVenter
1896 A.D. 

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all,

I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

It Is Well with My Soul
By Horatio Spafford
1876 A.D.

When peace like a river,
Attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say
It is wellit is wellwith my soul!”

It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul),
It is wellit is wellwith my soul!

Though Satan should buffet,
Though trials should come,
Let this bless’d assurance control
That Christ has regarded
My helpless estate and
Hath shed His own blood for my soul!

My sin, oh, the bliss
Of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross,
And I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord,
Praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord haste the day
When my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound,
And the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul!

Great Are You LORD
By All Sons and Daughters
2013 A.D.

You give life, You are love,
You bring light to the darkness.
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken.
Great are You, LORD.

It's Your breath in our lungs,
So we pour out our praise,
We pour out our praise.
It's Your breath in our lungs,
So we pour out our praise to You only.

All the earth will shout Your praise,
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing,
Great are You, LORD!”

390 A.D.

I believe in God
the Father almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
born of the virgin Mary.

suffered under Pontius Pilate, 

was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended to hell.

The third day He rose again!

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father almighty;
from there He shall come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic* Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins, 

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen. 

*Catholic stands for Jesus' Church
"according to the whole,"
across time, cultures, and nations,
that He established
and continues to build by His
grace, truth, and resurrection power. 


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. + Romans 15:13

Next post: Matthew 3:1-12 | Epiphany: Bear Fruit in Keeping with Repentance ... and Revolution 

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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